The Words of Lemuel

1
The words of King Lemuel,
an oracle(a)(A) that his mother taught him:
2
What should I say, my son?
What, son of my womb?(B)
What, son of my vows?
3
Don’t spend your energy(C) on women
or your efforts on those who destroy kings.(D)
4
It is not for kings, Lemuel,
it is not for kings(E) to drink wine(F)
or for rulers to desire beer.
5
Otherwise, they(b) will drink,
forget what is decreed,(G)
and pervert justice for all the oppressed.(c)(H)
6
Give beer to one who is dying
and wine to one whose life is bitter.(I)
7
Let him drink so that he can forget his poverty
and remember his trouble no more.(J)
8
Speak up(d) for those who have no voice,(e)(K)
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.(f)
9
Speak up,(g) judge righteously,(L)
and defend the cause of(h) the oppressed and needy.(M)

In Praise of a Capable Wife

10
Who can find a capable wife?(i)(N)
She is far more precious than jewels.(j)
11
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will not lack anything good.
12
She rewards him with good, not evil,
all the days of her life.
13
She selects wool and flax
and works with willing hands.
14
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from far away.(O)
15
She rises while it is still night(P)
and provides food for her household
and portions(k) for her female servants.(Q)
16
She evaluates a field and buys it;
she plants a vineyard with her earnings.(l)(R)
17
She draws on her strength(m)
and reveals that her arms are strong.(S)
18
She sees that her profits are good,
and her lamp never goes out at night.(T)
19
She extends her hands to the spinning staff,
and her hands hold the spindle.(U)
20
Her hands reach(n) out to the poor,
and she extends her hands to the needy.(V)
21
She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all in her household are doubly clothed.(o)
22
She makes her own bed coverings;(W)
her clothing is fine linen(X) and purple.(Y)
23
Her husband is known at the city gates,
where he sits among the elders of the land.(Z)
24
She makes and sells linen garments;
she delivers belts(p) to the merchants.
25
Strength(AA) and honor are her clothing,(AB)
and she can laugh at the time to come.(AC)
26
She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction(q) is on her tongue.
27
She watches over the activities of her household(AD)
and is never idle.(r)
28
Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
29
“Many women(s) are capable,
but you surpass them all!”(AE)
30
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,(AF)
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.
31
Give her the reward of her labor,(t)
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Footnotes:

a. Proverbs 31:1: Or of Lemuel, king of Massa, or of King Lemuel, a burden
b. Proverbs 31:5: Lit he
c. Proverbs 31:5: Lit sons of affliction
d. Proverbs 31:8: Lit Open your mouth
e. Proverbs 31:8: Lit who are mute
f. Proverbs 31:8: Lit all the sons of passing away
g. Proverbs 31:9: Lit Open your mouth
h. Proverbs 31:9: Lit and justice for
i. Proverbs 31:10: Or a wife of quality, or a wife of noble character
j. Proverbs 31:10: Vv. 10-31 form an acrostic.
k. Proverbs 31:15: Or tasks
l. Proverbs 31:16: Or vineyard by her own labors
m. Proverbs 31:17: Lit She wraps strength around her like a belt
n. Proverbs 31:20: Lit Her hand reaches
o. Proverbs 31:21: LXX, Vg; MT reads are dressed in scarlet
p. Proverbs 31:24: Or sashes
q. Proverbs 31:26: Or and the teaching of kindness
r. Proverbs 31:27: Lit and does not eat the bread of idleness
s. Proverbs 31:29: Lit daughters
t. Proverbs 31:31: Lit the fruit of her hands

Cross references:

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